Are there any sadder words in the English language right now than “closing ceremony”? Does it have to end? The Olympics have given us so much to enjoy, to share and celebrate. Choose your hero, your favourite moments - if you’re British, you’re spoiled for choice. Athletes overcoming obstacles and smashing through records in a dazzling variety of ways, then speaking honestly, humbly and gratefully. Crowds of spectators wishing well to everyone, volunteers happily doing good, highly complex infrastructure working, and broadcasters bringing us all the action in technical and emotional detail.
Is it only a year ago that London burned and convulsed in riots? Are we going to return our sporting attention to football’s bloated commercialism? The Olympics themselves show us how confusingly contradictory we humans are. Drugs cheats and corporate leeches rub shoulders with the stars of the Olympics, known and unknown. All of us contain these extremes to some extent.
But at these Games we’ve seen more often than we’re perhaps used to, how wonderful people can be, and what relentless joy can feel like. Intoxicating, isn’t it? With a media that generally accentuates the negative, and enough failings in ourselves and those around us to support such an attitude, there has been a dreamlike quality to this fortnight. Now we sense its end, the alarm starts to ring, so we agree with Shakespeare’s Caliban whose speech began the opening ceremony, “I cried to dream again.”
I don’t believe that happiness is a passing phenomenon, a dreamy aberration. I expect to live one day in permanent joy surrounded by perfect people. This is my hope because it’s God’s intention. The mess and pain and injustice that we’re usually so used to will not be allowed to continue forever because God gets the final word:
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)You think Mo Farah or a diligent Games Maker can make you smile? Wait until you meet the Being who is the source of happiness. Feeling inspired by what you’ve seen? How about a transformation from confusion to brilliant purity? This is what the Bible promises for the life after death to everyone in the Kingdom of God.
Applying for Olympic tickets was a frustrating, seemingly random lottery. Being brought into the Kingdom of God is not. Jesus Christ has made it possible. By His life, death, and resurrection, He has done the gold medal-winning work, and now invites you to join Him on the podium without any merit of your own. You must give Him your whole life, turning away from all you’ve done that has ignored and rebelled against Him. A perfect, joyful future with no closing ceremony awaits.
If you want to give your life to Jesus, please chat with a Christian friend, or get yourself along to a church where you’ll find people who will love to help you. I’m part of a family of churches called Newfrontiers, you can find your nearest one of us here.